Tusk to Tail: Ready for brunch with Tulsa

I should have known the Hogs were doomed against Ole Miss when my 10 year old tossed her cookies in my two-week-old SUV about halfway down the mountain Friday night on the way to Little Rock.

We didn’t know if it was motion sickness or a virus, but I was needed in Little Rock for Saturday’s tailgate.

I turned around, drove back home, dropped her and her mother off, cleaned up the truck, and headed back down the mountain.

After four hours of sleep, I was headed for the War Memorial Golf Course. With the early start and cold weather, the tailgating was a bit slow taking off, but the crowd did show up for another successful tailgate thrown by Tusk to Tail’s Team Little Rock.

The Razorbacks still appeared to struggle with poor execution on the field and what can only be poor preparation from a rudderless coaching staff. I hope for a better performance this week from the team, but either way, we will be there to support them in this lost season.

With another early start this week for Tulsa, at least the weather will be a little warmer. That should help keep the attendance up, and the fact that it is Homecoming should also throw the team an assist in attendance numbers.

If the Hogs had been playing better and winning, this would be our chili weekend – something that is easy, cost effective and feeds a lot of folks. However, 11 a.m. kickoffs really only lend themselves to brunch foods.

We expect a breakfast crowd of about 50 attendees under our tent Saturday. That smaller crowd helps with the food preparation and the amount of work that goes into a tailgate. It also helps with the options we might offer, since not as much will be needed.

Sam’s Club sells trays of Pillsbury Biscuits that are pre-baked and only require a quick warming to have them ready to go. With that, I plan to buy some pre-cooked sausage and bacon that will only require a quick heating on the griddle to have them ready to go.   Cooking raw bacon and sausage for 50 on a griddle could take hours, so I’m sticking with the easy method for items that are still quite tasty. Paired with that, I plan to serve some gravy that can be served over the biscuits for a nice hearty breakfast.

The easy part will be serving a couple of egg casseroles (prepared the day before but  cooked Saturday morning), donuts,  bagels, fruit, banana nut bread, coffee cake, and my wife’s special cream cheese Danish (recipe below).

For beverages, I plan to pick up some coffee from Starbucks. If our guests prefer Irish coffee, Bailey’s Irish Cream will be available, along with some Irish whiskey.  We will offer the usual assortment of mimosas, screwdrivers, and a full Bloody Mary bar alongside our standard offerings.

Product Recommendations:
I keep a vast set of tools for warming food at our tailgate, including electric warming plates, crock pots, griddle, and grills. We use a small propane Q-Grill from Weber for the meat items. The compact size is great for storing and transport, but the grill size allows up to 12 Bratwursts at a time. We bought a stand for it this year, which gives us the flexibility to cook away from the tent to free up table space and keep the smells and smoke down.

Additionally, I think it is essential to have a variety of crock pot sizes for all types of dishes and sauces. I keep two large, two medium, and two small pots. Each has a low, high and warm setting which keeps sauces and dips from separating and soups and chili from burning.

Lastly, we keep a couple of warming plates that can be compartmentalized into three dishes or keep full trays warm for hours. I can’t say enough positive things about these. They are very handy and used weekly, proving to be worth the investment.

With that, I have an electric skillet, electric hot plate, electric grill, and an electric griddle.  All are used from time to time, and gives the Tusk to Tail crew the option to go with any menu we choose.

This recipe has been used by my wife now for about nine years and has become a staple at the early morning games. The original recipe came from a Memphis Junior League Cook Book. My wife insists that it is super easy, and I can confirm that it is super tasty.
Martha’s “Meant To Be” Cheese Danish (16 servings at least)
2 packages (8 rolls each) refrigerated crescent rolls
2  8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick of butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350F, and grease a 13”x9” baking dish. Unroll one can of crescent rolls and press into the bottom of the dish, pressing perforations together to form a flat sheet of dough.

Ease the edges of the dough slightly up the sides of the dish.

Combine the cream cheese, 1 cup of the sugar, the egg and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Mix thoroughly. Spread the cheese mixture over the crescent roll dough. Unroll the remaining can of crescent rolls and place over the cream cheese mixture, pinching perforations together. Press the edges together to seal. Combine the melted butter, remaining ½ cup sugar, the cinnamon, and pecans.

Spread evenly over the top layer of crescent roll dough. Bake about 30 minutes or until golden. To serve, cut into rectangles.